Filipino ring hero Manny Pacquiao, already 40 years old and in his 24th year of a legendary prizefighting career, is still the same Manny Pacquiao of old, gearing to fight and fight the best.
At his age, the only human being to have won boxing championships after boxing championships in eight weight divisions, is considered at the twilight of his career and would’ve been enjoying the luxury picking opponents of lesser-caliber.
But that’s not our Manny.
Only a week ago, the WBA regular welterweight belt-holder who has had many epic fights in his 61-7-2 win-loss-draw records spiked with 39 KOs in a successful 24-year fight game, announced that he will facing undefeated WBA “super” 147-pound titlist Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) next.
The Pacquiao vs Thurman title fight set for July 20 at a venue still to be named, but possibly MGM Grand in Las Vegas, site of many of his classic encounters that made him a global icon.
Part of the conditions for signing with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions late last year, that he wanted to take on top opponents in the welterweight division, and that’s what he is doing.
Last January, the Filipino Senator handily outpointed Adrien Broner to keep his jewel and battling Thurman, is his way of fulfilling his promise of another big fight against a man 10 years his junior and known to possess tremendous power and ability.
The fight is also what Thurman, 30, of Clearwater, Florida, has wanted after disposing off Josesito Lopez last January to retain his belt in his return to the ring to shake off the rust brought about by injuries that laid him off for almost two years.
No amount has been specified yet, but it is likely that a $20 million or more guaranteed purse certainly helped convince the two red-hot welterweight agree to erase each other.
Again, no announcement has yet been made but winner of the Pacquiao-Thurman could lead to an eventual face off with the victor of a unification fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter.
Or Pacquiao can celebrate his 25th year as a prizefighter next year dancing with Terence Crawford in a showdown boxing fans have long been waiting to see.
Should he prevail over Thurman, that is.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is scheduled to fly to New York City on Sunday night via Philippine Airlines to start a three-day, two-US city press tour to promote the July 20 bout. A press conference has been called at the Gotham Hall on Tuesday afternoon when Pacquiao and Thurman get to see each other face-to-face for the first time.
After the New York leg of the media tour, Pacquiao proceeds to Los Angeles for another presscon on Wednesday after which he boards a Manila-bound flight evening of the same day.
He arrives in Manila on Friday morning in time to prepare pitching training camp along with chief trainer and Polangui, Albay vice mayor-elect Buboy Fernandez in preparation for the July bout.
Pacquiao had, actually showed up in his General Santos version of the Wild Card Gym for a feel of what it is atop the ring last Wednesday following a four-month non-boxing activity since beating Broner.
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